Yellow Tape Measure

13 Ways Having a Baby Has Shaped Me Up

Have you ever heard something that intrigued you but you don’t quite get it, only to understand it much later on when you find yourself in the situation that makes you recall those words? Oh yeah? This is how having a baby turned out to be for me.

When I was in Rwanda last year, I was having coffee one morning with my new friends from Saddleback Church. Brad, who does marriage counseling with his wife Shelley, at Rick Warren’s church asked me if I was considering having kids. Now a million people have asked this question in the past. My default answer has always been, “Where am I going to fit a baby in my already busy and full life?”

However, Brad’s response intrigued me. He said, “It’s actually the other way round. Babies will make you more focused, you will cut out the unnecessary and become more effective with few things.”

Now as one who does life coaching, it really piqued my interest because I’m all about focusing on priorities and effectiveness. I’d never seen it in this light!

Something about what he said set me free from my occupied territory of fear of having kids because I may not have time to devote to a kid.

I didn’t quite fully grasp what he meant at that time, until 9 months later when our baby arrived.

I now get his point!

Here are some notes I took down during my first three months of having a baby. Please note that this is not about how to parent, rather how I have been challenged to grow as a person, not just as a mom. These points apply to many facets of my life – relationships, work and spirituality.

  1. My Priorities – I find it easier to say no these days to things that are not important to me. When something doesn’t work for me, I do not hesitate to make that clear. And I care less about “hurting your feelings,” in a good way. There are very few things that truly matter, that should fill my time. Other people’s urgent needs do not have to be my priority.
  1. Effective Use of Time – Parkinson’s Law states work expands to fill the time allocated to it. In this new season, I have realized that it doesn’t take a lot of time to get that quick shower, cleaning, etc. Like on a morning while David was away, it took me a little over half an hour to make and eat breakfast, take my vitamins, put out the trash, load up the washing machine, have a shower and send out an email, all before baby woke up from a 1hour nap.
  1. Importance of Good Sleep - It is human nature to value more that which is scarce. With a baby, I grab every chance to shut my eyes. We all know that sufficient sleep is good for our health, but many times we trade “well-being” for late nights, prioritizing other things over our sleep. It has become a top priority.
  1. Being Present to the Moment – Not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. Mindfulness…this is one of the biggest habits I’m cultivating. I give my full attention to the moment, paying attention to my body, emotional needs, as well as that of the baby. Imagine approaching life with such presence?
  1. Less is More – I can get by with less clothes, less time, etc. A little goes a long way. I am actually going to give away many of my clothes because currently, I only enjoy the comfortable ones.  I wash and wear a few things repeatedly. I am becoming more of a minimalist.
  1. Personal Discipline – No more ignoring the alarm clock. Whether I feel like waking up or not, when baby wants to feed, there’s no debate about that. Also, I don’t sit and flip channels with the remote when I have “free time”, I think of the best way to relax or enjoy my break mindfully.
  1. Creativity – There are many ways to skin a cat. As a matter of fact, this is the first time I typed a blog-post on my cellphone! I find that my creativity is growing in leaps and bounds – from instantly composing baby songs, to carrying baby in a sling while eating dinner over his head, to using my mouth or foot to pick up things, etc…I think I could feature in a talent show on Reality TV :)
  1. Less Self-conscious – After going through the hospital experience, where a bunch of professionals assist you during birth and look at your body parts in the process, and then eventually being handed this tiny, new life that depends on me for its survival, I don’t have much time to worry about myself or what others think of me.
  1. Level of Motivation – Because I know that a little life depends on me, there’s no room to be unmotivated. The stakes are too high to be negligent. I have realized that “The level of motivation in life is directly proportional to what is at stake.”
  1. Flexibility – What worked yesterday may not necessarily work today. Keeps me bendable. How easy is it for one to become set in her ways? I feel like I have grown more in my adaptability. The pay-off to this has been me stumbling into some successful strategies by just being willing to keep trying new ways of doing things.
  1. Surrender – Going with the flow. There’s great suffering in resisting what is. I have relinquished the need to control my day or time. Yes, granted there are schedules, but I let the important things take priority. My plans are not set in stone these days.
  1. Go Slow – Go slow in Nigerian Pidgin English means “traffic jam”. Activities such as getting out of the house, takes time and planning. I am learning to slow down, reminding myself that “haste could lead to waste in life,” “good things do take time,” and that “patience is a virtue.”
  1. No Choice - When you don’t have a choice, you’ll be amazed at how well you will do with your circumstances (like waking up super early to feed your baby). Sometimes it’s our choices that sabotage us in life. Too many choices can weaken our commitment or at worst, paralyze us. Now I value having no choice, which brings out my best.

In conclusion, my summary of motherhood is this: When Intuition meets biological programing, the result is the ignition of super-human powers.

If you are struggling with personal discipline or learning to choose your priorities, perhaps consider having or adopting a baby!

Just kidding…sort of.